By Jerry Eltzroth
My previous two stories about Harry Dean Stanton jogged some CV&T readers’ memories. Jimmy Smithers, a former Estill County resident who now lives in Miamisburg, Ohio, told me that Harry Dean’s father, Sheridan Harry ‘Shorty’ Stanton was pictured in the Estill County Historical Society’s book titled, “200 Years in Pictures, Estill County, Kentucky.” I could not locate ‘Shorty’ Stanton’s picture in the index until I discover his last name was spelled incorrectly. Shorty ‘Straton’ was listed on page 45 of book.
The caption under the picture read: “Shorty Straton [Stanton] and Albert Witt Barber Shop. The barber at the first chair is Shorty Straton [Stanton] and the barber at the back chair is Albert Witt. The shop was located where the parking lot is on Broadway in Irvine, Kentucky.” There were several pictures on this page. I scanned the page and sent the image to my daughter, Deanna, in Waco, Texas. She used her computer skills and a little magic to isolate Shorty’s picture and send it back to me. The picture is reprinted on this page.
The two customers in the barber chairs were not identified. The black man at the rear was not identified either. The black man has a whisk broom in his hand which may have been used to clean the customers clothing. He most likely also shined the customers’ shoes if desired. The sign above his head reads, “BATH.” Evidently this was a full service barber shop. Another interesting sign above the mirror reads, “NO CREDIT,” which is self explanatory. The photo was probably taken about 1930.
After sharing this photo with the good folks at the Estill County Historical Society, they seemed certain that this barber shop was in the building next door to them on Broadway that used to house the recently closed Thyme on Broadway Restaurant.
Another fan of my stories (I’m glad somebody is reading this stuff!), Bev Miller, called me with yet another tidbit of information about Harry Dean. Bev is 91-years-young and is a walking, talking history book of Estill County. Bev told me where the Stanton house used to be located on Garrett Ave. near his home, and where Harry Dean Stanton was born in 1926. The house was razed recently and a doublewide mobile home replaced it.
Bev further informed me that Paul Parsons’ family owned the Stanton house for many years after the Stanton’s moved. Paul was born in 1933 and was raised in that house. Paul eventually became associated with Combs, Parsons and Collins Funeral Home on Main Street in Richmond, Kentucky. Bev added that Paul Parsons had a picture of the old house. Unfortunately Paul Parsons passed away in 2016. I understood Bev to say that the picture was hanging on a wall in the funeral home. Therefore I went looking for the picture.
When I asked Shannon Combs about the picture, he could not remember any such picture ever hanging in the funeral home. My hopes of finding this picture began to dim. Perhaps I misunderstood Bev Miller about the location. Then Shannon asked their office associate to come downstairs. Her name is Lula (Parsons) Kinder, Paul Parsons’ daughter. She did not remember the picture hanging in the funeral home. However, she told me she inherited a painting of an old house from her father. It was proudly displayed in her home. She graciously took a photograph of the painting and e-mailed it to me. I presented a print of the photograph to Bev Miller. He positively identified the house in the painting that accompanies this story as the Stanton, and later, the Parsons home. Fate, via Bev Miller, guided me to Lula or this picture may have never been found.
Bev Miller suggested I send the picture to Jerry Rose, who is an historian of the Cedar Grove area of Estill County and recently published an excellent book on the subject. Jerry commented that he knew someone who took pictures of the old Stanton-Parsons home as it was being razed. He is going to try and secure those pictures. I also gave a copy of the Stanton house and the photo of the barber shop to the Estill County Historical Society.
Bev Miller recalled another bit of information about the Stanton family. After Shorty Stanton’s first wife, Lula (Dozier) Stanton passed away shortly after their second daughter was born, the young daughters, Quincy and Lillian, went to live with their Aunt Marie Dozier. She lived a short distance away on Garret Ave. next to the Church of Christ. Marie never married and worked at the Carhartt clothing factory in Irvine. Marie had an untimely death and was found collapsed in her home. Quincy and Lillian were teenagers at this time and went to live with their father and his new wife Ersel (Moberly) Stanton. Shorty and Ersel were living in Fayette County at the time (around 1940) with their children, one of whom was Harry Dean Stanton. Quincy and Lillian had attended school in Estill County, but Lillian had to finish high school in Fayette County.
I have found Harry Dean Stanton’s story from his birth in West Irvine July 14, 1926 until his death on September 15, 2017 at the age of 91, to be very interesting. All the tidbits from Estill County residents and relatives of Harry Dean have enriched my stories. I am continually reminded of Harry Dean’s legacy as an actor whenever I see one of the movies where he was a supporting actor. Recently I was watching “Godfather 2” and there he was in one of the scenes. I exclaimed, “There’s Harry Dean!” Bonnie gave me that “You’re nuts!” look. Just a few days ago I was watching a movie starring Jack Nicholson titled “Goin’ South.” At the beginning of the movie, Jack Nicholson’s character was thrown into the local jail. On the wall of the jail cell was scrawled “H. Dean Stanton.” Jack Nicholson thought so much of Harry Dean that he secreted Harry Dean’s name or initials in his movies to honor him.
I have heard a rumor that Estill County may try to find a way to honor Harry Dean in a permanent way. That would be a fitting tribute to one of our local residents who made it to the big dance.
This photo of a painting belonging to Lula (Parsons) Kinder has been verified by Bev Miller to be the house where Harry Dean Stanton’s family lived when he was born in 1926.
This reprint of a photo on page 45 of the book, “200 Years in Pictures, Estill County, Kentucky” is of the Shorty Stanton and Albert Witt barber shop that was operated around the 1930’s on Broadway in Irvine, Kentucky.